The author paints a picture of the Louisana bayou from Ruby's artistic perspective. A bayou is a very slow-moving body of water or a marsh or wetland. While Ruby's bayou is in Houma, Lousiana, others are found along the Mississippi River. Bayous are home to crawfish, shrimp, shellfish, catfish, and alligators.
Grandpere Jack catches catfish from the bayou. Noodling is a technique used to catch these fish with bare hands.
Ruby's family bears the surname Landry. Landry has French origins and is the second oldest name in France. Three saints bear the last name as well.
Tourism is prevalent in the bayou. Many travel to Houma to witness the wetlands and experience Cajun culture. Terrebonne Parish offers swamp tours, authentic Cajun food, Cajun dancing, and other celebrations.
Traiteur is the French Acadiana term for a faith healer.
The primary method of treatment involves laying hands on the person in need of healing. The healing is a combination of Catholic prayer and medicine. Many, like Grandmere Catherine, refuse to accept offers of payment for their services because they see their gifts as being from God. Very few traiteurs exist in the modern world. According to tradition, Catherine's daughter Gabrielle could not have possessed traiteur powers because the rituals are passed down only to the opposite gender.
Cajun French is spoken primarily in Lousiana and derives from Acadian French. It differs from French spoken in France today. Children were not allowed to speak French in public schools in Lousiana until the 1960's, a short time before this novel takes place. An example of a Cajun French word is fais-do-do, a Cajun dance with Acadian roots.
Cajuns, like Grandmere Catherine and Grandpere Jack, are descendants of Acadians exiled from modern-day Canada, Nova Scotia, and Maine. The Acadians were evicted by the British between 1755 and 1763.
A fais dodo is a Cajun dance. The type of dance originated before World War II and the translation means "go to sleep".
Ruby is an artist, showing a strong correlation to V.C. Andrews and her personal life. Andrews was a successful painter.
Jambalaya is comprised of meat, vegetables, stock, and rice. Grandmere Catherine's jambalaya would not contain tomatoes as a Louisiana tradition. Jamabalaya is a simple dish.
Ruby often hears Grandpere Jack playing his accordion across the swamp.
Ruby comes home to find Paul sitting on the galerie steps playing his harmonica. The harmonica is typical of Cajun music and culture.